ABINGDON, Va. - Between 25-30 percent of Virginians and 30-35 percent of Tennesseans struggle with obesity, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's most recent data.
A local woman is fighting back against those statistics after a wake-up call almost two years ago.
Becky Bentley can now run laps around most of us, but in 2012 she weighed 270 pounds. "I had high cholesterol, I had high blood pressure, I was labeled obese and everything was stemming from my weight," Bentley said.
She told us the turning point came in August 2012 when she found out she had Type 2 diabetes. Bentley was a nurse at the time and understood how serious her condition had become.
She decided to make a lifestyle change by cutting out fast food and joining a gym. "I started walking," Bentley said. "I was so overweight I couldn't run, I couldn't use any exercise equipment at the gym. I started walking everyday."
She told us she started out with small goals and within 21 months she was completing her first marathon.
Bentley told us before and after pictures are what keeps her motivated. "If I ever almost think, 'Do I want to just skip and not go run today?', I can look at that and how far I came and what impact it's had on my kids," she said. "It's impacted them, changed their whole lifestyle to be healthier."
Bentley has three daughters and now she runs, bikes, and swims with them.
Bentley is also using her journey to help others as a wellness fitness coach for Wellmont employees. Director of Nurse Connection, Judy Rasnake, told us she knew Bentley was perfect for the position right away. "She was so inspiring that I was almost in tears by the time we finished the interview and probably the only person that I have ever hired on the spot," Rasnake said.
Rasnake told us Bentley uses her story to help the other employees through similar struggles. "Typically our nurses don't take care of themselves, they take care of everybody else," Rasnake said.
Bentley told us she's glad to pass along her first hand knowledge about the ups and downs of getting back into a healthy lifestyle.
"When I get emails or calls back that say, hey I've made this change, hey I've lost 20 pounds, thanks for the information, those are the calls mean a lot," said Bentley